Written by: Matthew J. Barbour
Horrible Gods: The Little Book of Atheist Horror Stories is a collection of literary works from splatterpunk author Wrath James White. For those unfamiliar with White, his stories tend to focus on social commentary through a strange mix of comedy, explicit violence, and sexual acts. In Horrible Gods, the author takes aim at God and the Judeo-Christian religions which dominate the western world. Stories include:
He Who Increases Knowledge
Tamara’s Last Exorcism
A Dialogue between a Priest and a Dying Man
Munchausen by Proxy
He Who Would Not Bow
Meus Atheos Vita
Two stories, “Pious Masochist” and “The Earthlings,” and one poem, “Meus Atheos Vita,” are original to the collection, along with the introduction written by Ray Garton. The remaining six tales were initially published elsewhere. However, these other anthologies are either out of print or hard to come by.
The title is a bit misleading. While Horrible Gods claims to be a collection of atheist horror stories, God is very real in most of these tales. However, he is not the loving benevolent figure the Bible would make him out to be. Instead, he is a selfish uncaring sadist. The pain and suffering of man exists solely for his amusement.
None of the tales stand out. Yet, none are particularly bad either. In this instance, the collection of the stories within a themed anthology lessens some of their impact to the reader. He or she comes to expect White’s God. The shock of an angry and wrathful deity wears off, but the point continues to be made over and over again.
“Munchausen by Proxy” perhaps conveys the notion of a diabolical God best. Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy is a real malady in which caregivers inflict mental or physical pain on their wards to make their care necessary. It is a charge often leveled at women who have had multiple children die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Here the accusation is made against the mother of all things, but will anyone listen to Adam?
Horrible Gods is not White’s strongest work to date. However, the quirky collection is bound to get a giggle out of Christian and atheist alike. Fans of the author will revel in the brutal delivery and visceral details of the narrative. White makes a good point, even if he begins to repeat himself.